wisdom Dawns

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Oct 2018 14:12:11

THE reported decision of United States President Mr. Donald Trump not to cancel the USD 110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia may be treated as a dawn of some sobering thoughts about the role of the US in world affairs vis-a-vis its own gains, in the minds of the President who is known otherwise as an abrasive leader who is given to impulsive thinking on crucial matters. That he reasons that the cancellation of the arms deal with Saudi Arabia may help other world powers such as Russia or China to sneak into the emptied spot, is rather a soothing development. For, the posturing Mr. Trump has been making in the first half of his presidency had become for much of the world a point of anxiety about a disordered world order, led by the US President. 

In fact, as he mulled withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, his close advisors fought hard with Mr. Trump in an attempt to block the move. His predecessor, Mr. Barack Obama, too, advised Mr. Trump to think again about his decision. Yet, the impulsive and abrasive Mr. Trump refused to listen to wise counsel. Similar was the situation when the US President thought of withdrawing from NAFTA that facilitated North American trade arrangements that helped US farmers to sell their produce in Canada and Mexico. Each time Mr. Trump thought of cancellation of deals or pacts, countless mini-wars broke out in the White House that saw itself divided in two pro- and anti- factions. On many occasions, the President’s associates would manage to stall a move, but on many occasions, they failed. That internal development made the world stare at an impulsive White House, the like of which was visible, though in small measures, in the presidencies of Mr. Richard Nixon or Mr. Ronald Reagan.

It is against this background that Mr. Trump’s decision to hold on to the Saudi Arabia deal appears to indicate a sobering of the man who just jumped up to presidency without having held any public office in his life. The world has often noticed that the US has often treated Saudi Arabia as a true ally in the Middle East, alongside of Israel, the two countries that are so steadfastly opposed to Iraq. However, bogged down by what he described often as lopsided trade deficits and also perception that most of the allies of the US were not loyal to their mutual agreements, Mr. Trump started reviewing almost every international agreement of the past few years. In the case of the Saudi Arabian deal, the President’s advisors seem to have won the internal battle.

It would not be impertinent to refer to the President’s response to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s -- NATO -- overall collective working. One of the clauses of holding of NATO member-nations together is that each has to spend 2% of its defence outlay for NATO funding. But no nation except the US, including the cash-rich Germany (1.5%), makes up for the agreed-upon component. Infuriated by this lacuna, Mr. Trump started thinking of withdrawal from NATO -- which would have been a terrible blunder as it would have given Russia a clear upper hand in European and global realpolitik. Fortunately, again, the associates prevailed and stalled the President’s impulse. No matter the success, none of his associates ever takes the President’s decision as ‘final’ as he is given to shifting his stances every now and then. The Saudi Arabian deal has to be viewed from this angle.

A crucial aspect of Mr. Trump’s personality is that he believes that everything achieved by the US before his ascendency was wrong. That showed itself in his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Deal, or his threat to quit the World Trade Organisation. Many other deals are under the threat of Mr. Trump’s impulsive response to historic realities of American diplomacy. The fight within the White House is between two ideologies -- Globalisation versus Americanisation, as we know.